28 February 2011

relics and desire

February disappeared. I meant to write up some of my thoughts from the College Art Association annual conference in New York City. It hasn't happened. Daniel and Gary very kindly let me stay several extra days so I could do a bunch of gallery hopping and see friends and whatnot.

One of the shows I saw was "Objects of Devotion and Desire" at the Leubsdorf Art Gallery at Hunter College. It's on until April 30th and the catalog is available in PDF from the exhibition website. The show was put together by medievalist Cynthia Hahn and the students in a contemporary art class. It included a few reliquaries from the Metropolitan as well as recent works of art that played off the theme.

I read Hahn's catalog essay on the bus ride back upstate. She traces the history of relics and uses the neologism re-licing "in order to put the focus on a verb or action rather than a noun or object" (p. 9). My first thought was that this was a lost opportunity to turn a "c" word into a "ck" word when you use the "ing" ending of the present participle, e.g., picnicking, frolicking. Then, it occurred to me that "re-licing" would be "relicking." This had potential for seeming naughty ... but perhaps is wonderfully appropriate for relics.

The picture is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the work is: Arm reliquary. 13th cent. (with 15th cent. additions). French. Silver, silver-gilt, glass and rock crystal cabochons over wood core. Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917. Accession number 17.190.353. For more information, click on the name of the work.